With winter weather ending in the Cascades, construction work on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass has gone into high gear for another summer driving season.
Motorists traveling to and from Western Washington can expect delays or slowdowns on Interstate 90 near the pass due to a pair of major construction projects.
“Yes, you will be delayed,” said Meagan McFadden of the Washington State Department of Transportation.
Widening of I-90 east of the pass is now in its third year in a project that is expected to last until 2016.
To the east, work is continuing on repairs and replacement of concrete pavement between Easton and Cle Elum. Work is currently being done in the eastbound lanes. The right-hand lane is being replaced along with broken panels in the left-hand lane.
Traffic there is reduced to one lane in each direction on weekdays, with a third lane opened on weekends to serve traffic leaving the Puget Sound area on Friday and Saturday and returning on Sunday. That arrangement will be in effect through Memorial Day.
Drivers going to the Puget Sound area for the weekend from the East Side will encounter single-file traffic and will not benefit from the additional lane.
The project will shift to nights at the end of the month, allowing traffic on four lanes during the day.
In the other project, blasting work near Hyak on the east side of the pass is going to begin in coming weeks where a contractor is expanding the freeway from four to six lanes. The job involves removing dangerous rock from cliffs on the north side of the freeway.
Traffic is going to be stopped about 7 p.m. during days when detonations are planned.
Also, rolling slowdowns will be in force when the contractor is moving equipment.
Also, the DOT website has updated reports on its Snoqualmie Pass page.
Information is available by phone at (888) 535-0738 or 511.
Another phase of the pass work begins later this summer with a contract to extend the six-lane segment from the existing snow shed to the vicinity of Keechelus Dam. That job involves building a new snow shed to replace the 1950 structure that covers only the westbound lanes. The new snow shed will cover all six lanes.
In addition, a bridge is being built at Slide Curve to the east of the snow shed. The bridge is intended to reduce the curve to allow traffic to maintain freeway speeds.
The cost so far is estimated at $551 million and is being funded by a gasoline tax increase in 2005.
Construction causes I-90 delays
Traffic on I-90 in downtown Spokane is regularly backing up in the westbound lanes as a result of construction.
A contractor is repairing concrete pavement west of the Maple Street on-ramp, and the job includes long-term lane restrictions at the Latah Creek Bridge.
Six lanes of traffic are being squeezed into four lanes, and the westbound lanes have been backing up to the Division Street off-ramp on weekday afternoons.
Motorists should be wary when approaching downtown from the east.
Fortunately, the backup isn’t causing long delays. It took about five minutes to get through it during Thursday’s evening rush hour.
Chuck Prussack, the vice president and general manager of Central Pre-Mix Prestress Co., reports that the firm poured its 1 millionth cubic yard of concrete on Thursday at the company’s yard in Spokane Valley.
The concrete went into a bridge girder for a Sound Transit project in Tacoma.
The company made its first pour in 1958 for a bridge in Coeur d’Alene that would eventually become part of I-90.
State focuses on motorcycle safety
The WSP is teaming up with the state Department of Licensing for a motorcycle safety program in coming months. Last year, 67 motorcyclists were killed on Washington roads.
Troopers will be looking for impaired motorcycle drivers and other violations, while the licensing department will work on getting riders to obtain the required license endorsement to operate a motorcycle.
They estimated that 24,000 motorcycle riders in the state do not have the endorsement, which involves motorcycle training or a test. Drivers younger than 18 must take a rider course.
For more information go to endorseyoursport.com.